LA Times: Scrambling to preserve Holocaust memories

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifteen years ago, nearly 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses began sharing their stories with a group that would come to be known as the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. The testimonies, averaging about two hours each, were documented on videotape, a format whose quality deteriorates over time.

And that's why the foundation, intent on preserving its Holocaust material for future generations, has launched a $10-million initiative to turn 105,000 hours of videotaped testimony into a vast digital archive.

The switch, foundation leaders say, cannot come a moment too soon -- with the videotapes expected to start decaying within five years and aging Holocaust survivors dying off.

A particularly appropriate story to post on this day. Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

Posted January 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. vulcanhammer wrote:

When I graduated from my Episcopal prep school, as the valedictorian gave her address, her father sat listening with his concentration camp number tatooed on him.

The key issue here is not only the preservation of the memories of the Holocaust.  It is the preservation of the Jews themselves.

January 27, 3:11 pm | [comment link]
2. Bob Lee wrote:

Of course, Oboma’s pals, the Muslim community/world, denies the Holocaust ever happened. With the way our government re-writes our children’s textbooks, look for the Holocaust to be “written out” of history…


January 27, 5:42 pm | [comment link]
3. Dee in Iowa wrote:

Obama’s pals?  If my memory serves me right, GWB held hands with them…..for photo opts as well…...but of course, those he held hands with firmly believe the Holocaust happened.  Now please don’t get me wrong, but if we are going to sling mud….lets sling it both ways…..I personally think both Obama and Bush did and are trying to do their best for this country…...pershaps if a few of us quite the sniping, more will get done…..

January 27, 5:50 pm | [comment link]
4. NigelNicholson wrote:

Maybe it’s time to encourage folk to let all this go.  No catastrophe has been milked as much as the Jewish holocaust. And certainly none has been used to excuse so much blatant ethno-centric aggression. Look for Gerald Kaufman’s recent speech to the UK Parliament on YouTube.

January 27, 6:47 pm | [comment link]
5. Jeffersonian wrote:

If the topic of exterminating the Jewish people were off the table, Nigel, I might agree.  Unhapppily, as recent events have shown, that is far from the case.  There are plenty of folks who would happily finish Hitler’s project.

January 27, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
6. Dee in Iowa wrote:

Ethnic and religious extermination is always lurking in the hearts of evil persons….we must never forget, nor let down our guards.  Yes, the holocaust was against the Jews, but lets remember it also included those considered less then perfect, i.e. mentally challanged, cripples, homosexuals, gypsies, and anyone considered not up to the measurements of those in charge.  May we never forget and may we be of help to those trying to keep the facts alive….

January 27, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
7. MySoulInSilenceWaits wrote:

That Jews have committed themselves to not allowing any of us to forget is a blessing.

“Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter - with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me.

I have issued the command - and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad - that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly I have placed my death-head formations in readiness - for the present only in the East - with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Adolf Hitler August 22, 1939

Quoted from a speech delivered by Hitler to the Supreme Commanders and Commanding Generals, as the Nazis marched into Poland in 1939.

January 27, 9:45 pm | [comment link]
8. TACit wrote:

Well, that’s an extraordinary quote, #7.  I have never actually read anything that Hitler wrote so it carried full shock value for me. 
As for the Armenians - well, I reflect that the last time I renewed my driver license in Los Angeles I was one of a mere handful of not-Armenian people in the office, and afterward as I browsed the street outside waiting for my ride I noted with some fascination the numerous Armenian restaurants, music shops, bakeries, bridal stores… I guess history has its say after all, as no doubt the proprietors of those places tell the Armenians’ story also. 
Although some of us may feel we have heard enough of suffering or heard it all, that may simply mean that we also need to start telling, rather than seek to stop the flow of oral history.

January 28, 3:03 am | [comment link]
9. Katherine wrote:

Thanks, #7, for the Hitler quotation.  It is naive and dangerous to think that “can’t happen again” or “it can’t happen here.”  In the twentieth century alone, Armenians, Ukrainian, Chinese, Jews and other “undesirables,” and many others died for the good of the state or of the people or of some ruling ethnic group.

January 28, 3:10 am | [comment link]
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